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New York’s Trinity Church Finances Efforts to Rescue Women from St. Louis Sex Trades

"We are about changing the culture that says it's okay to buy and sell women."
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A woman  lights a candle after receiving a sign of the cross in ashes on her forehead February 6, 2008 at Trinity Church in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A woman lights a candle after receiving a sign of the cross in ashes on her forehead February 6, 2008 at Trinity Church in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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By Megan Lynch @MLynchOnAir

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – An historic church in New York with major real estate assets, is investing in a St. Louis project, but it’s not about financial returns.

Magdalene St. Louis wants a home to get prostitutes off the streets and started on a new life.  Trinity Wall Street has offered $25,000 to help. It’s the first year Trinity is offering what it’s calling “Wildcard Grants”, meant to provide seed money to “innovative leaders” who lack the resources needed to get their idea up and running.

Dean of St. Louis’ Christ Church Cathedral and Magdalene St. Louis Board President Mike Kinman tells KMOX he believes the grant is about more than one home,  “This is really tapping into a larger movement to say we’re about not just helping five women — which will be the initial size of our community — but we are about changing the culture that says it’s okay to buy and sell women.  The truth is, it’s not okay.”

Kinman says many of the women held captive to the sex trades have suffered years of exploitation, “these are little girls, 7, 8, 9 years old who were sexually abused, who started using drugs and alcohol at age 11, 12, 13, who were on the streets prostituting at age 13 and 14.  This was not a choice.”

Magdalene St. Louis is based on Nashville, Tennessee program that’s had success getting women off the streets, then providing them the counseling, treatment, education and support to start new lives.

Kinman says Magdalene is close to selecting from several homes and should have a decision within the next month.  He estimates it will take over half a million to launch the program this year, with an annual budget in future years of roughly $350,000.  The group will be hosting its major fundraiser “Making a House a Home” next month.

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